The beginning of a new season is supposed to be inspiring. Every team starts with the same record, the possibilities seem endless, and every roster is nothing but promise waiting to be fulfilled. It is supposed to be a time for hope and for optimism. The Twins failed to generate that hope, but at least I could look toward the midseason reinforcements that surely must be on the horizon.
So when the Twins made their final roster cuts of Spring Training and prioritized veteran mediocrity over youth and upside, I wasn't terribly worried. It was a mistake, sure, but not one that seemed likely to hurt the club in the long run. After all, I figured that the eventual struggles of replacement-level heroes Jordan Schafer, Shane Robinson, Blaine Boyer, Tim Stauffer, and/or Mike Pelfrey would give way to younger players with the potential to contribute anything of value relatively quickly. I could be patient.
Then Ervin Santana tested positive for Stanozolol. In isolation, it's a stupid mistake. Despite Terry Ryan's assertions to the contrary, the Twins weren't going to be competitive this year. Santana will lose a bunch of money and the Twins will lose a capable arm for a bit. The Twins will lose 90 games instead of 87. Santana is either a cheater or an idiot (or both), but so are a lot of players. No big whoop. Now there's a job available!
Except, when faced with a second chance to hand that job to Trevor May, Alex Meyer, or Michael Tonkin, young pitchers who throw hard and who have conquered Triple-A, the Twins instead gave Mike Pelfrey another rotation spot and promoted lefty Aaron Thompson from Rochester.
Pelfrey has, of course, been awful in his time with the Twins. In 34 starts, he has a 5.56 ERA, the second highest in baseball for anyone with more than 170 innings pitched. He has been injured, yes, but nothing in his recent history suggests that the 31 year old still has it in him to be a capable starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. On the other hand, Pelfrey does have a heavy fastball (and only a fastball) that he can tune up to the mid-90s for an inning or two at a time. Fans and, finally, the Twins speculated that he might actually be an asset out of the bullpen. Instead, he'll be put in position to fail in the rotation again.
Thompson was a first round pick ten years ago who converted to relief when he signed with the Twins as a minor league free agent in 2012. He's a 28 year old lefty whose fastball averages 89 miles per hour. He struck out 51 batters in 52 innings in 2014, but walked 4.5 batters per nine innings. He is the Platonic ideal of a replaceable second lefty out of the bullpen. He offers almost nothing in the way of upside.
Meanwhile, as Aaron Gleeman has (perhaps obsessively) pointed out, the Twins will continue to have four players 25 years old or younger on the active roster. Players who might reasonably be assumed to be part of the first good Twins team since 2010 sit relatively idle and it's reasonable to ask how many more players would have to get hurt or suspended before they get a chance to contribute.
That's where we stand 48 hours before the season opens. My hope, if I ever had it, is gone and so is my patience. I'm already demoralized and angry at the Twins' leadership who put this uninspiring club together. Being bad is one thing, but the Twins seem dead set on also making themselves uninteresting and unwatchable. Wake me in June when this bad and boring team decides to start using its players that are worth watching.